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Wealthy residents ordered to pay millions in fines after poisoning and cutting down neighbor's trees to improve ocean view: 'A truly disgusting incident'

"People think they can … do anything to get a better water view?"

"People think they can ... do anything to get a better water view?"

Photo Credit: iStock

A wealthy couple was recently caught poisoning their neighbors' trees to death in order to improve the views around their Maine vacation home, the Portland Press Herald reported — and the saga isn't over yet, as many local residents feel like they got off light after paying at least $1.7 million in fines and settlements.

The main characters in this Maine story are Amelia Bond, who was accused of spearheading the poisoning; her husband Arthur Bond III, the nephew of former U.S. Senator and Missouri governor Kit Bond; and their neighbor, Lisa Gorman, the widow of the heir to the L.L. Bean fortune. 

In 2022, Gorman noticed that some of the oak trees on her property were dying. She was then approached by Amelia Bond, who offered to split the cost of cutting them down. When Gorman instead called a landscaper to figure out what was wrong with the trees, she was told that a powerful herbicide, Tebuthiuron, had been applied to them.

Investigations followed. Bond eventually admitted to illegally applying the herbicide but claimed, through a lawyer, that she had been treating a moth infestation.

This explanation did not pass muster with Gorman and her lawyers. 

"It is my client's position that the cutting the tops off numerous trees and applying a strong herbicide on her property was admitted to have been done by the Bonds to improve their view of Camden Harbor. There should be no misperception concerning a browntail moth problem with Mrs. Gorman's property, as none existed," Gorman's attorney later wrote in a letter.

Though the Bonds have since been forced to pay various fines and settlements totaling over $1.7 million (just slightly less than the $1.8 million they paid for the house in the first place), some Mainers have wondered if they are so wealthy that they essentially just got away with it. As toxic chemicals tend to do, the Tebuthiuron managed to spread to a public park and local beach, causing even more widespread damage than Amelia Bond initially intended to do.

The town board voted to request that the Maine Attorney General's Office review the circumstances and perhaps consider additional action — but it will be up to the Attorney General to decide if any charges should be pursued. 

One commenter on the article wrote: "This story is about a truly disgusting incident. People think they can come to Maine and do anything to get a better water view?"

"I would like to see fines in proportion [to] the net worth," wrote a commenter on a Reddit thread about the story. "Otherwise, for rich entitled people it's just a cost of business. If they had to pay a minimum fine of $1.whatever million or 10% of net worth, whichever was greater, that would be a real deterrent. It would also encourage municipalities to go after the rich and powerful as much as they do the rest of us schmucks instead of being afraid of them and their lawyers."

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